The next few years would be a bit of a challenge. As far as my
professional music career was concerned, it basically came to
a halt. It would take some time to start all over again. I would
find myself working 9 to 5 jobs working as a computer draftsman
up till my retirement in 2020. Over time, the musical part of
my life gradually came back, playing professionally part-time.
over 20 years to unpack here!
1998, The Bill Travis Swing Orchestra
late 1998 I started playing with the Russ Button's Swing Orchestra.
It was a rehearsal band that occasionally would play paid performances.
A guy named Bill Travis was the drummer. He bought the music
library from Russ and renamed the band, The Bill Travis Swing
Orchestra. Bill was a retired airline pilot and always wanted
to have his own big band.
I eventually became the lead trombone player and did most of
the soloing in the trombone section. Shortly after that, I became
the male vocalist for the group. We also had a smaller 5-7 piece
version of the group that did smaller combo gigs with me as
the front man on vocals and trombone. i also became the sound
engineer for the bands when we played out.
files below are ones that featured me as the soloist (Mack the
Knife) and vocalist.
Get Around Much Anymore
1999 and Beyond
with the Bill Travis Orchestra would end up being a
re-launch point for my musical career as I met several
musicians who I would work with or would end up working
for me for many years. A lot of things started happening
at the same time so all I can do is try to list them
in some kind of order.
left the band and bought some of Travis's sound equipment
as well as other equipment I needed to work as a sound
engineer. I was hired by an agent to run sound for one
of his wedding/party bands and other venues. It was
a lot of work for not much money but I developed a good
relationship with this agent and would eventually convince
him to book my jazz quartet for private events.
I said earlier, a lot was happening at this time. John
Quam was the pianist in the Travis orchestra and we
became good buddies. Back in the 90's, John and a trumpet
player named Morty Okin had played with a group called
The New Morty Show, a very popular, high energy swing
band based in the S.F. Bay Area. John and Morty were
putting a new group together based around horn bands
like Chicago, Blood sweat and Tears, Tower of Power,
etc. I joined the group which was eventually known as
Kiss My Brass!
tracks below were recorded in my studio in 2002-2003.
I was featured as the vocalist on Beginnings.
band members were:
Quam on keyboards, Russell Golub on guitar, Grant Walthall
on drums, Vicki Grossi on bass, Morty Okin on trumpet,
Neil Levonius on trumpet, Carroll Ashby on trombone,
Joe Escobar on trombone and vocals
Bless The Child
My Brass Stream >>>>>
fun group I played in was the Fancy
Sinatras, a Nancy
Sinatra cover band. This group was made up of several
young ladies that actually worked at Industrial Light
and Magic in Marin County. I was part of the horn section
and also sang the Frank Sinatra part of the song Something
Stupid originally recorded by Frank and Nancy Sinatra.
of the Secret Agents
Are Made For Walkin'
all 5 tunes here >>>>
also played with a group
that played SKA style reggae music called Undercover
SKA. I'm still trying to find some better pics
and recordings from when I was with the group.
my music career in the Bay Area, one of my favorite
things was playing Dixieland gigs. In San Francisco,
they had an annual Union Street Festival where there
would be several jazz bands in front of storefronts
on the very trendy Union Street shopping area. We would
be assigned a location to play and do a couple of sets
for the passers by.
this period, around 2007, I had also established a new
jazz quartet with John Quam on keys, Steve Comber on
bass (both who I met in the Travis band yeears before)
and Bill Belasco on drums. We occasionally did some
private events, but more and more, budgets were getting
smaller. My response to that was using my MIDI programming
skills to create drum parts, which enabled me to eliminate
the live drums and sell the band as a trio. We landed
a steady Sunday night gig at a new Joe Dimaggio's restaurant
in the North Beach district of San Francisco. Bob Chandler
eventually became my regular bass player. The gig lasted
a good 3 years!
was 2010, and while we were working at Joe Dimaggio's,
I was asked if we had a CD for sale. I went ahead and
booked some studio time and recorded a CD called "It's
My Turn" with a bunch of crooner tunes to sell
at gigs and often gave them to wedding clients that
hired us for their receptions. The album features:
Quam on piano, Bob Chandler on bass, Bill Belasco on
drums and myself on vocals, trombone and trumpet.
of the basic tracks were recorded at Expression College
in Emeryville, California. I added the vocals and trombone/trumpet
in my home studio and also did the final mix and mastering.
album is available for download at all major music sites
Out with my Baby
Got a Crush on You
a Wonderful World
Close for Comfort
Fly with Me
Way You Look Tonight
Me to the Moon
entire album here >>>>>
gig at Joe Dimaggio's came to an end when the restaurant
went out of business.
after, we lucked out and got another steady Sunday gig
at the Paragon Cafe in the Claremont Hotel in Oakland,
stayed there for another couple of years until the management
changed and they booted us out for another band.
living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was always a Giants
and 49er fan. I had updated my recording studio and developed
an interest in creating music videos. When the Giants won the
World Series in 2012, I decided to write a little tune called
"Love Those Giants" and created a music video for
it. The local San Francisco KRON4 news did a segment about fans
doing videos about the Giants which included mine! Below is
an edited version of the news broadcast and the actual video.
the 2013 baseball season began, I redid the arrangement
of Love Those Giants, hoping it would get some play
at the stadium. Unfortunately it didn't, but I did get
the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at AT&T
Park in 2013
Those Giants 2013
Escobar performing the National Anthem at AT&T Park
2011 to 2014, the coach for the San Francisco 49ers was Jim
Harbaugh. The team developed a call and response where Harbaugh
would say "Who's got it better than us?" The team
would respond with "Nobody!" This carried into the
fanbase as well. It prompted me to write a song for the 49ers
called "Who's Got It Better Than Us" which i accompanied
with a music video when they were in the playoffs in 2012. Shout
out to my good friend Russell Golub for his great guitar work.
In 2013 the 49ers went to New Orleans to play the Ravens for
Super Bowl 47. Because the coaches were brothers, it became
known as the Harbowl. To keep with the New Orleans theme, I
wrote a little tune called "At The Harbowl in New Orleans"
based on a Dixieland standard called Way Down Yonder in New
Orleans. Unfortunately they lost!
Got It Better Than Us
The Harbowl In New Orleans
last video about the 49ers was when they lost the NFC
Championship in 2014 against the Seattle Seahawks to
get to Super Bowl. 49er fans hate the Seahawks, so this
video was created in hope that they would lose the Super
Bowl at Metlife Stadium....but they won!!
Bye Seahawks (2014)
course, while i was having fun doing my recordings and videos
at home, I was still involved with other music projects. One
was called Jazz Search West, a sort of competition which was
geared more towards amateur players, but was open to anyone.
It featured vocalists and instrumentalists. I went ahead and
signed up. One of my qualifying performances was held at The
Sound room in Oakland, California. The final performance and
judging was at the brand new San Francisco Jazz Center. I was
signed up as an instrumentalist but at the final performance
I did a vocal performance of Straighten up and Fly Right which
surprised the judges as well as the audience.
of Me at the Sound Room (2013)
Up and Fly Right at the S.F. Jazz Center (2013)
about 2012 to 2021, I had the priveledge of playing
and singing with Michael Young's Mood Swing Orchestra.
nothing like singing in front of a kick-ass big band.
This video is from a gig at the Saddle Rack nightclub
in Fremont, California. (Normally a country western
bar that occasionally had a big band night).
Joe Escobar singing with The Mood Swing Orchestra
was 2013. My album had been out for a couple of years,
and like many other musicians, I found that I made literally
nothing on streams and it was easy for people to find
a way to download your music for free.
wrote the song My Mp3 to bring attention to the problem.
the time, we had moved across the street and had rented
our little house to a Alex Kopel who was an independent
filmaker. He loved the tune and insisted that we make
a music video. Here is My Mp3.
Joe Escobar's music video of My Mp3
in 2013, I wrote my first Christmas song, "Christmas
Time's Around the Corner". The
song is available for download at all major music sites
Time's Around the Corner
is a recording I did of "The Wee Small Hours"
in 2014. I never got around to publishing it.
in 2014, while recovering from foot surgery, I moved
my studio upstairs and did a recording project with
my own arrangement of the old song "Love Potion
#9". My original idea was to do a music video with
it but I never got around to it.
created the entire recording in my home studio with
virtual drums, bass, piano, organ, saxes and trumpets
along with live trombone and trumpet parts and vocals.
song is available for download at all major music sites
2013 to 2020 my group(s) performed at 81 different private
events throughout the S.F. Bay Area and Wine Country.
usually isn't easy to record videos at these types of
events so I did a little montage of 5 gigs that I had
video from all synced to the same song, Sway.
Montage of the song "Sway"
Then Came Trump!
I was not a supporter
of that presidency and my way of protesting was by writing a
few songs, some which I also created music videos for.
of my first Trump music videos was a parody based on
Ray Charles' "Hit the Road Jack". I never
published the song as the Ray Charles Foundation Frowned
upon political parodies based on his music.
later wrote my own version called "Hit the Road
Mr. Trump", which I did publish and copyright.
The Road Mr. Trump
Hit the Road Trump (2017)
following year I wrote another one loosely based on
the Blues Brothers "Hey Bartender" called
the "Donald trump Blues" Shout out to my good
friend Russell Golub for his guitar work on this track.
is one of my favorites!
Donald Trump Blues (2018)
some doo-wop from Joey and the Libtards! based on "You
Send me!" This one is really fun with a real New
You Offend Me(2020)
was having too much fun making these videos! Another
favorite of mine is this one based on John Lennon's
"Imagine" called "Imagine There's No
Imagine There's No Moron (2020)
was the last one I did before Trump lost the 2020 election,
based on Sinatra's "The Best is Yet to Come"
The Worst is Yet to Come (2020)
this time I was also part of two community orchestras, Holy
Names Orchestra and the Oakland Civic Orchestra. The videos
below are from two performances with the Oakland Civic Orchestra
that featured the brass section and trombone section.
Brass performing Dukas, Fanfare to La Peri (2018)
trio piece by Robert Schumann (2019)
Then Came Covid!
Covid pandemic basically shut my live performances down. Any
weddings or corporate events I had booked were canceled.
order to keep the music going, a lot of us started creating
virtual performances. This was a lof of fun considering the
nightmare we were all going through at that time. Basically
to record/produce these projects, I would create a click track
for everyone to follow and they would all record their parts.
I would then sync all of the music and video tracks to create
a virtual performance that appeared to be almost live. Below
are some of my creations.
Brass virtually performing Fanfare for Greta (2020)
Low Brass Christmas Carols (2020)
My Brass virtual Reunion (2020)
Longest Time (2020)
Up and Fly Right (2020)
Covid pandemic had a negative effect through 2021. I
had a total of 5 gigs that year.
issue i was dealing with was the fact that I had been
diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2018. I retired
wife, an accomplished cellist had been looking for a
new job as a cello teacher and couldn't find anything
in the S.F Bay Area that would work.
ultimately found a job opportunity in the Salt Lake
City area, and with the rising cost of living in California,
and not knowing what to expect from my condition, we
decided to sell our house and moved to Utah, which will
bring me to the 5th chapter of this musical journey.
i would have to start all over again in a new place
where I didn't know anyone....